How to Catch Sturgeon Bay Smallmouth Bass | Spring and Beyond

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Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is a world-class multi-species destination and home to giant smallmouth bass. Professional guide and bass tournament angler Adam Rasmussen (Rasmussen Outdoors) shares his extensive knowledge of finding and catching Great Lakes smallmouth bass. He provides a detailed step-by-step approach to locating spring smallmouth using electronics and the best tactics to catch oversized goby-eating machines.



The warming water of spring signals the transition from deep winter haunts to spawning grounds. Finding the warmest water on large rock-laden flats is goal number one! Using his LakeMaster VX charts, Rasmussen starts with a detailed map survey of what to look for, focusing on expansive rock flats punctuated with boulders and depressions. Whereas mapping gets him into the right zone, side imaging becomes the next tool to locate prime fish-holding spots like transition zones between sand and gravel to rock and isolated boulders.


Rasmussen marks prime-looking spots with waypoints, then takes to the bow. With waypoint sharing enabled, he acquires his targets on MEGA 360 Imaging, making sure to maintain a significant standoff distance to avoid spooking bass in the ultra-clear water. He then makes casts to specific targets, such as large boulders surrounded by sand. While 360 sonar paints a detailed picture of his surroundings, Rasmussen explains how forward-facing sonar adds additional insights, such as spotting bass, dialing in casting accuracy and measuring the height of boulders.

TACKLE USED (retail links)


While the Sturgeon Bay forage base is diverse, the invasive goby is the primary and favored forage of the smallmouth. As such, bottom-based presentations excel over moving baits such as crankbaits and jerkbaits. Rasmussen shares some of his top lures, emphasizing the importance of choosing baits that mimic the size, color, and movement of gobies in the rocks. Small tubes, Ned-style plastics, and paddle tail swimbaits round out his shortlist of proven presentations. He then covers his favored rod, reel, and line setup for making long casts, detecting subtle bites, and controlling oversized bass in the challenging zebra mussel-infested waters.

This venture into Sturgeon Bay’s world-class smallmouth bass scene highlights the seasonal dynamics of these fish. It showcases Rasmussen’s systematic approach to fishing, from the strategic use of technology to his choice of spots and baits. This video will empower you to hit the Great Lakes with confidence during the spring and beyond.